YASOTHON — A resident of Yasothon province who posted a video of what he alleged to be an election irregularity was sent to an attitude adjustment session at a local police station, officials said Monday.
Kiatburut Panlert, who alleged that recipients of state welfare cards must also sign up for a pro-junta party, was taken to a police station and briefed by security officers before he was released the same day, the head of Loeng Nok Tha district told reporters. He said the issue was based on a misunderstanding.
Kiatburut maintained he was doing the right thing.
“Right now I’m fine. There are people ready to help me if anything happens to me,” Kiatburut wrote online. “Thank you for all your support (Don’t be afraid when doing the right thing. It’s our country. We have the rights to scrutinize any lack of transparency).”
In a video posted online Sunday, Kiatburut said officials who handed out government welfare cards to low income earners forced them to pay 100 baht and register as members of Palang Pracharat Party. The party supports junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha’s bid to become an elected prime minister in elections slated for February.
“Look at this. This is a lack of transparency right here,” Kiatbutur says in the video, waving a form of party application in front of the registration booth. “Apart from failing to lead the country, they are also stupid!”
In a statement, the Loeng Nok Tha district office said Kiatburut initially received a complaint from an elderly woman who wanted to sign up for a welfare card but ended up at the nearby Palang Pracharat booth by mistake.
Party staff then misunderstood the woman’s intention and gave her the registration form, the statement said.
But the explanation failed to convince critics of the government who accused Palang Pracharat of election fraud. Convincing members of the public to join a political party in exchange for rewards is punishable by party disbandment under election regulations.
“All the state functions seem to willingly facilitate convenience for Palang Pracharat Party’s political activities in many steps,” Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan told reporters. “But personally I think it’s good they are being obvious about it, because it will be easy for the public to make decisions.”
The pro-government party was mired in controversy since its inception, when four ministers under the junta’s cabinet joined it as its executives, raising outcry of conflict of interests from the opposition.
An investigative news agency also alleged that some of the seats at the party’s 600-million baht fundraising banquet were purchased under state agencies like the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
Government officials insist no taxpayers’ money was used to buy seats at the event, which cost 3 million baht per table.